Investing in people will power the region’s productivity and prosperity

April 2021

Sarah Elms, partner at BDO in East Anglia takes a closer look at the latest Rethinking the Economy survey and what it means in the region.


Spring feels like a time of renewal every year but perhaps never more so than this year. Overwhelmingly, business leaders in the region responded to our latest survey with a sense of renewed optimism which is down to the significant progress made tackling the public health challenge, the heroic efforts of the NHS over the past 12 months and the pace of the UK’s vaccine roll-out.

Workforce wellbeing will boost business and regional economic health

When asked, 79% of mid-sized companies in East Anglia told us they feel now is the right time to invest in their business. This reflects what our clients are telling us within the local market. What’s most interesting is how companies plan to invest over the next six months as they rethink the way they operate.

Nearly half (44%) of businesses in East Anglia plan to invest in initiatives to support employee wellbeing over the next six months. A recent article in Harvard Business Review highlighted a significant trend that employers will shift from managing the employee experience to managing the life experience of employees in order to enhance wellbeing. The pandemic has given business leaders increased visibility into the personal lives of their employees and brought health and wellbeing to the top of the agenda. It’s become clear that supporting employees in their personal lives and in managing their overall wellbeing more effectively enables employees to have better lives and also to perform at a higher level. As a firm, we recognise that we need to (and want to) look after our people first and foremost. Investing in wellbeing is good for people, good for business and good for the region.

Business leaders optimistic about regional investment

To build a better future, business leaders also need well-considered and targeted support from Government, especially in the regions. Last month, the Industrial Strategy Council – an advisory group led by Bank of England chief economist Andy Haldane – said the UK’s plans to spread economic growth into the regions of the UK appeared “over-reliant on infrastructure spending and the continued use of centrally controlled funding pots thinly spread across a range of initiatives. There’s no doubt, high impact investments and shovel-ready projects must take priority and of course, businesses need more than just infrastructure.

But according to our survey, 81% of businesses in East Anglia feel the Chancellor promised enough to support the regional ‘levelling up’ agenda in the Budget and 95% believe that their region will be given enough financial support over the next 12 months, with 60% of these believing this support will be as a direct result of the pandemic.

The region’s business leaders are clearly optimistic about the future so if the support and incentives are directed and implemented well at a local level, mid-sized businesses will be empowered to implement their investment plans. This is the key to powering the region’s economic recovery and building new ways of working for the future.

If you would like to discuss the latest findings or the tax incentives available for investing in your business, contact me on 01473 320700 or email [email protected].


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